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From Sharp Health News, a publication of Sharp HealthCare

Pain is rarely welcomed, but it does have a purpose. Pain protects the body from injury by sending a signal that reminds us to care for it, especially when it’s already injured. Pain also aids in repairing injuries.

There are two types of pain:

  • Acute pain develops suddenly and tends to be sharp. It is relieved when the underlying cause has been treated.
  • Chronic pain lasts longer than three months. It can be dull and aching and may come and go.

Common sites of chronic pain include the back, head, joints and nerves, leading to tense muscles, limited mobility and low energy levels. Chronic pain can also affect a person’s mental health, causing anxiety, depression, anger and fear regarding re-injury.

While people of all ages and genders experience pain, women are generally more likely to experience chronic pain than men. This can be due to:

  • Fluctuating hormones
  • Increased number of nerves in the female body
  • Loss of bone strength and density as one ages
  • Increased sensitivity to the emotional toll of pain

Treating chronic pain

There are minimally invasive treatments specifically designed to block the transmission of pain signals or permanently correct the problem causing pain, while also reducing or eliminating the need for surgery or a reliance on pain medications. These include:

  • Medications and injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Nerve blocks
  • Acupuncture
  • Platelet rich plasma injections
  • Treatment of contributing conditions

Efforts to manage stress, exercise, and maintain a healthy diet and weight are also important. Exercise releases endorphins, which help to block pain signals; reduces inflammation; and increases mobility and the flow of blood and oxygen to inflamed muscle. Low-impact exercises, such as tai chi and aqua-aerobics, also improve balance and function when performed on a regular, consistent basis.

The VEBA Resource Center offers Low Back Care and Pain Prevention Classes, focusing on exercises that are designed to strengthen your core, improve your posture and help you stay pain free. Check out our calendar to sign up for an upcoming class.